Senator Tony Lourey: Senate Republicans passing irresponsible budgets
Republicans routinely run on being fiscally responsible. With the recent republican takeover of the Minnesota State Senate I anticipated cuts in spending. However, the state budget put forward by the republican majority doesn’t cut spending, rather it pushes spending into the future putting Minnesotans on the hook for debts that should be paid on time, particularly in a time of a budget surplus. This is going to seriously jeopardize the state’s long-term fiscal health.
One example of this fiscally irresponsible practice is in the Senate Tax Bill. This bill costs $900 million this budget cycle but it isn’t something you pay just one time. The state will continue to lose at least $1.1 billion in each upcoming budget cycle largely due to ongoing business tax cuts. This means that we are cutting taxes with money the state does not have.
Another example is the Health and Human Services Budget Bill. This bill postpones $454 million of payments Minnesota clearly owes into the next budget cycle so it appears like we are spending less in this budget. Not paying bills on time isn’t an option for your family, and it shouldn’t be an option for the state.
Aside from irresponsible budgeting, the budget as currently designed by the republicans also does not invest in things Minnesotans care about. The Education Budget Bill does not invest enough money in schools and many school districts are worried about being forced to cut programing and teachers in order to make ends meet. The Tax Bill’s investment in Local Government Aid (LGA), while it increases for one year, actually penalizes many communities in the future, cutting up to $13,000 worth of aid for individual cities in our region starting in 2019.
While the Senate Republicans do include $400 million for transportation funding, this investment is done largely with a one-time use of general funds cut from other spending priorities. Transportation investments need to be made in a sustainable, ongoing manner to support our aging transportation system and adequately support the needs of the state and local road systems now and into the future. The $400 million proposal will not be enough for the state to maintain existing roads. Without a dedicated source of funding, transportation will constantly be in competition with students, the elderly and disabled and all other spending priorities. The principle of having constitutionally dedicated transportation funding has served Minnesota well for decades. To abandon it now is short sighted and will cause disruption for many years to come.
The current Senate Budget proposal is simply not responsible. Minnesota has a budget surplus of $1.65 billion. We should be paying our bills and making thoughtful, sustainable investments that will benefit all of Minnesota, not ignoring the needs of working class Minnesotans. Feel free to contact me if you want to learn more about what is in the budget and why I think it’s important we run our state in a fiscally responsible manner.
Senator Tony Lourey is the State Senator for District 11, serving Pine, Carlton, and Kanabec Counties. You can reach him at 651-296-0293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.